I got myself a new cell phone, the Nokia E71. In the process I’m putting my old but faithful Sony Ericsson T610 to retirement.
In order of importance, here are the reasons why I went with that particular phone :
1. Built-in GPS
My wife landed a new job so she had to give her GPS back to her old company. I went with Sygic McGuider Europe 2009. So far, I’m pleased with it, it’s very customizable and compares to Tomtom and is better than Mio GPS, but I guess anything is better than Mio :-)
Yesterday, as I fired up McGuider, it locked my GPS position immediately ! This is maybe Google Maps had been busy updating my location a few moments before ? Usually it’ll take from 30 seconds to 1 minute to pick up the GPS signal.
2. VoIP SIP
VoIP will work over WiFi or the data network of your carrier (GPRS or 3G), as long as they don’t block SIP.
I run a small Asterisk PBX at home with friends and family connected to it. I also use a SIP provider (poivy.com) allowing me to call 35 countries for free (including US cell phones). Basically, I can call friends and family and 35 countries for free from my cell, as long as I have network coverage. Secondly, I now send SMS through the PBX for 6 cents instead of 12 cents through the carrier. Plus, Poivy will let me display any confirmed (cell or landline) phone number to the people I call.
For those wondering, I’m on BASE data network, which is EDGE and not 3G (yet). They don’t block SIP but… read on.
For some reason the Nokia SIP client is not able to register on my PBX. Well, I see the phone registered on the PBX (it somehow reports huge latencies between 500-2000 ms) but the phone acts like it’s not registered, so I can’t place calls. Instead, I have to use Fring, which acts as a proxy. I haven’t sniffed the traffic from the phone to Fring servers yet but I guess they obfuscated SIP/RTP traffic to allow VoIP on carriers blocking SIP. To be confirmed. Fring SIP client works okay but latencies can be annoying. This is still fine when calling relatives. For important calls, I’d try finding a wifi hotspot around, or using the GSM network as a last resort (this is the point of a cell phone in the first place right ? :) ).
When I’m back home, my phone will automatically register to my PBX over WiFi (this time using the Nokia client). When someone calls my PBX, I can pick up my cell and be on WiFi instead of GPRS.
3. SSH client
Don’t expect to only use your cell to manage your servers.. but this is definitely nice to be able to connect to your boxes from anywhere.
4. Full keyboard
I don’t like touchscreen keyboards, and I can’t imagine exchanging IM’s typing on a regular phone keypad. I can be very good at typing on a computer keyboard, but I totally suck on a cell phone.
I’ll always try to see if there’s a WiFi network available before using the GPRS connection, unless for mails and sensitive stuff.
I haven’t tried the feature yet.
I can surf the internet from anywhere by connecting my Macbook to the phone using Bluetooth or USB, and using the GPRS connection.
I’ve set up my Macbook to use the phone as modem, using Bluetooth. It works perfectly. I didn’t have to use some hacked script to get it working, since my carrier only does GPRS, so it just worked out of the box.
A bit of a disappointment here, I just wish the phone would be able to connect to OpenSSL/OpenVPN vpns.. It only does IPsec and there’s no OpenVPN port under Symbian in the horizon. Someday I need to set up an IPsec VPN on my home server.. Ugh.
- Gmail client
- Fring : MSN, AIM, Jabber, SIP and more. I prefer Nimbuzz (better interface) but I use Fring because it’s the only client that works decently with SIP.
- Opera Mini : since the web browser that comes with the phone is not perfect
- Qik : share live video from your phone on the internet
- WorldMate : every morning, get the weather forecast
- JaikuSpot : turn your cellphone into a wireless access point
- Google Maps + Latitude : it works very well and will do a better job finding restaurants (thanks to reviews and budget info) or stuff like that, compared to a regular GPS. Latitude will tell you where your friends are.
- Sports Tracker : Nokia Beta Labs app. Nokia Sports Tracker is a GPS-based activity tracker that runs on compatible Nokia mobile devices. Information such as speed, distance, and time are automatically stored in your training diary. http://sportstracker.nokia.com
- Location Tagger : another Nokia Beta Labs app. With Nokia Location Tagger, you can automatically tag your location data to your pictures. As you take a picture, your GPS coordinates are saved to the EXIF header of the JPEG file. You can use this data later, for example, to locate your pictures on a map. http://betalabs.nokia.com/betas/view/location-tagger
Other neat stuff
- You can encrypt the memory of your phone. I did so on the phone memory but not on the 2GB SD card.
- The phone has an IMAP/POP client. I set it to check my mails every 15 minutes between 7am and 2am.
- You can sync your phone with Google Contacts. Very handy since I use Google Contacts as my main address book (make backups before playing with Google Sync !).
- I used to save phone numbers in international format (+32…). The Nokia SIP client will not accept calls on that kind of number. I had to convert my whole address book back to the national format and to 001… for US numbers.
- If you store two or more contacts with the same number, when that number calls you the phone will only display the number but no name. My T610 used to display the first name it found, alphabetically.
- I’m sure battery life can be very good, but don’t expect it to be huge if, like me, you keep the phone connected to GPRS/3G and let stuff running in background constantly (Fring and Google Maps + Latitude for me).
- Don’t run both Nimbuzz and Fring at the same time, SIP was not working under Fring while Nimbuzz was running.
- When on SIP (be it Nokia SIP client or Fring) the volume is not very high.
What I’ll buy soon
- Brodit Proclip cradle for my car Way too expensive
- Charger/Holder on eBay
- 4GB SD card
Edit : After a few weeks of use…
This is what I use the phone for on pretty much a daily basis (in order of importance) :
- Calling : but mainly over SIP, which makes me save a LOT of money
- GPS : I use the GPS application (Sygic McGuider) almost daily.. even for short rides, I don’t need to remind when to turn right, the GPS just let me know :-)
- Finding businesses : I’m often on the road, and use Google Maps to find restaurants, gas station or stores
- IM : using Fring
- Email : I gave up with the Gmail client and use the built-in IMAP client. The Gmail client is very limited and won’t grab email addresses.. from your phone addressbook OR Gmail addressbook (shame !). Also, with the built-in IMAP client, you can just select a picture and click option > send > email. You can’t do that with the Gmail app.
- Managing contacts : you can sync your Google addressbook with your phone using the SyncML protocol. See http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=98230&topic=15015 My Google addressbook is now my only addressbook.. syncing takes 5 seconds. Awesome ! (caution : iSync under Mac OS X tends to mess up with your addressbook.. It’s losing half of your contacts info)
- Calendar : I use Google Calendar. I use CalSync for…. syncing with my phone and get nice notifications on my homescreen
- Internet Radio : using Mobbler, I can listen to Last.fm radios, but also scrobble my tunes played with the built-in radio player
- SSH : I don’t use it for day-to-day sysadmin but it’s handy when you need to check something quick (Putty)
- Photo : the quality is not great but decent enough if I need to snap something quick, plus I can tag the picture with GPS coordinates using Location Tagger.
- Publishing photos online : I use Picasa Web for publishing pictures online.. you can upload your pictures from your phone by sending them to an email address you specify in Picasa Web settings. Specify the album name in the subject field of your email, if you don’t set a subject, pictures will go in a “Dropbox” album.
- Live video : from time to time I stream some video live on the web using Qik
- Sport assistant : I don’t use it right now, but plan on doing so in the future :-)
Annoyances : I’m off from 2 Nokia updates for my phone so maybe it’s fixed in the latest firmware updates.
- Can’t call international numbers (+32…) using SIP client. This is a major issue, if someone calls me and I miss the call, I’ll see the number +32, which I can’t call back. I need to go in the addressbook and call from there.
- When I’m on a call, the phone just displays “call 1”. Not the phone number, not how long I’ve been on the call. I used to have a sound playing every minutes on my old T610, and the call duration. This would be nice and welcomed here.
- Given my particular PBX set up, I may get an incoming call coming on both SIP client and Fring SIP client. This tends to render the phone a bit unstable. It once crashed too. Please Fring, let me disable SIP without deleting the config !
- Yesterday, I fired up Sygic, looking for a gas-station. Sygic takes around 10-15 seconds to load. Meanwhile I received a call. The call got disconnected when Sygic started.
- Fring issue : when I receive a SIP call on Fring, I need to unlock my phone first ! It goes without saying that I missed every calls so far.